While your past is a great source of untapped power to you, what makes people believe in you as opposed to thinking about you comes down to the narrative you tell. Rightly or wrongly people categorise and label you to separate themselves from the totality of your experience. Thus, our stories have to move beyond the point of filling the bookshelf and be on the table ready for enjoyable reading and continuity of well-being. In other words, for any visionary or innovator, it is essential to cross the chasm of disbelief to belief, connect doubt with hope, and to risk taking the faith of leap into a new world.
Every remarkable story feeds on faith and truth. Look at Galileo. He lived at the boundary of medieval and modern worlds and became convinced of some ideas that were, in his time, considered unorthodox, odd & crazy, i.e. the belief that the sun revolved around the earth, not the other way around. He couldn’t explain his new ideas in rigorous observation of numerical codes and mathematical laws thus; he took to explain his concept in the form of dialogues which made room for digression and deviation from perceived truth.
So what is the widely held belief you and I need to confront in our current stories?
It is my opinion that one of the beliefs we must defy is that perpetual borrowing (in any of its forms) is the pathway to economic success and happiness. Only when the majority of the population can locate themselves inside a story of insupportable debt will they belong and participate in a narrative of genuine debt-relief. It is why the ‘Jubilee’ movement struggled to make a greater impact in the millennium. Voices were resonating from churches, trade unions, even rock stars, but they weren’t believed in sufficiently to become the new reality and usher in a financial moratorium for third world countries.
Granted, what is happening in countries like Greece is now accepted as fact. But what is the average UK or even Western citizen doing about the issue of over-borrowing? How are the EU and other major nations committing to solving the ongoing crisis of crippling debts?
While journalists can write papers and politicians prevaricate about growth versus austerity, most of us have yet to encounter a dramatic and direct consequence of living through the tragedy of debt. Self-interest in the UK economy continues to trump collective action. The insupportable debt of many of our citizens, national institutions, and governments continues to be hidden away in bank vaults and electronic files. And the truth is our collective guilt is not yet frightened enough into action. Instead, we find ourselves fearful, pessimistic, and impotent.
A new story approach is necessary for those of us who live in ‘negative capital’ and the ‘modern slavery’ of unreconciled monetary burdens. We have become accustomed to debt, but it is not normal. Greece and many other nations are useful external validators to many of us about the world’s debt crisis. However, for the vast majority, the Greek people are a trivial example of recklessness spending beyond means. But, was the myth of the Greek story to keep up with the Joneses in the rest of the world or part of a bigger narrative that pervades all our world, namely economic growth defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of wealth is a supreme value in a material world?
Until a new financial ethos, monetary authority, and an economic pathway is created using unexpected combinations of stories of justice, truth, and reconciliation, few of us are free from the false notion that perpetual indebtedness is good. The fact is a poverty of generosity has swept our world and our ongoing fad for conspicuous consumption, and inability to redeem the financial system through debt-write-off, inhibits us not helps us.
To change our debt-ridden world requires an attitudinal change. It demands a spiritual act: an act of repentance, where those who live under constant financial threat become equal pecuniary citizens (not economic outcasts) with those who dwell securely and comfortably in their substantial funds. Those with wealth need to prepare to serve the wider community by writing off debt. They need to gift part of their wealth and income to develop a more sustainable economy for the benefit of all, including their happiness. And, I do not mean through the tax system (our governments need debt cancellation as much as our institutions and individuals), but by a new economic conscientiousness that encourages forgetfulness and fosters a generous Jubilee.
I’ll explore some more of this with you in my next post: “The Dog Secret.”